EFF joined more than sixty civil liberties organizations and public interest groups from across the world yesterday in calling upon the world's governments to support the creation of a United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy.
The special rapporteurs are independent experts appointed by the Human Rights Council and serve in their personal capacities. The establishment of a special rapporteur on the right to privacy is a key step that the United Nations can take to ensure that the right to privacy is given meaning and practical application in the light of technological developments. A special rapporteur would play a critical role in developing common understandings and furthering a considered and substantive interpretation of the right to privacy in a variety of settings.
The right to privacy is one of the few civil and political rights without specialist attention from a United Nations mandate holder. Privacy is an independent right, enshrined in a variety of international human rights treaties. There is a pressing need to better articulate the content of this right as part of international human rights law and produce guides on its interpretation, particularly as modern technologies are enabling communications surveillance—and consequent interference with this right—on an unprecedented and damaging scale.
The coalition letter states:
“The UN General Assembly resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age – adopted by consensus on 18 December 2014 - encourages the [Human Rights Council (HRC)] to consider the possibility of establishing a special procedure on the right to privacy. (...)
The UN General Assembly, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and existing special procedure mandate holders have all recognized the pressing need to provide continuous, systematic and authoritative guidance on the scope and content of the right to privacy as enshrined in article 12 of UDHR and article 17 of ICCPR. Significantly, all of them have identified the need to assess and monitor the ongoing implementation of this right.
The current lack of a dedicated thematic special procedure on the right to privacy hinders the capacity of the HRC to provide leadership in protecting and promoting this right (...). A Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy would fill this significant institutional gap and enable the HRC to take a leading role in identifying and clarifying principles, standards and best practices regarding the promotion and protection of the right to privacy.”
EFF and coalition partners have been calling for the establishment of a special rapporteur on the right to privacy for a while. We'll be keeping you informed on the discussions on the right to privacy being held by the U.N Human Rights Council in its 28th session in Geneva, which ends on March 27th.